KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) - A father valiantly tried to shield his wife and teenage son from gunfire as they were robbed while responding to a car ad on Craigslist.
The Liberty couple was shot, robbed and had their vehicle stolen Wednesday night, and were left bleeding on the ground, police said. Empty shell casings were found near where they collapsed.
The 16-year-old boy was badly shaken up but he was not hit by the barrage of bullets thanks in part to his father's actions. The family was trying to purchase the teen's first vehicle.
The 53-year-old man was shot four times in the chest, stomach and legs and underwent surgery overnight. The 55-year-old woman saw her right upper arm shattered when she was struck by a single bullet.
A couple who live in the Stone Haven Apartments in southeast Kansas City came to the couple's aid.
"I heard screaming so I ran up the hill to see what was going on and that's when I found the kid on his cell phone," said J who asked not to be identified since the suspects are still on the loose.
J turned to his girlfriend, Amber, who is a lifeguard.
"She told me to grab her rubber gloves," he said.
For what seemed like an eternity, they pressed down on the couple's wounds as they waited for police to arrive.
"It scary but they needed help," Amber said. "I'm sure they showed up as fast as they could. The woman kept saying, 'I wish they would get here.'"
J tried to keep the man conscious but his injuries were devastating.
"I would talk to him and ask him questions then he would open his eyes and answer me and once again start to fade," J said.
Unfortunately, they said some people stood around watching but didn't provide any assistance.
"I was hoping someone else would join in but I'm just glad she (his girlfriend) was there telling me what to do," J said.
According to police, the family came to look at a white 2007 four-door Hyundai Sonesta they had spotted online. The father and teen test drove the vehicle with a suspect who called himself "AJ," according to a Kansas City Police Department report.
After completing the test drive, the victims and the suspect returned to the apartment complex. As the victims discussed purchasing the vehicle, the suspect said he needed to call his wife. He walked away from the family while on the phone.
Two men then approached armed with black handguns.
"The suspect stated, 'Give me the money!' When the victims stated they did not have any money, the suspects stated, 'I know you have the money, now, give me the money!'" according to the police report.
The teen told police that when the suspects pointed their weapons at his mother that his father stepped in front of her. The suspects then opened fire.
The second suspect reached into the vehicle and grabbed the woman's purse, which contained $3,000. As he turned to leave, the suspect pointed his gun at the father's chest "and fired one last time," according to the Kansas City Police Department report.
The suspects fled in the Hyundai.
The incident was reported about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the area of East 84th Terrace and Drury Circle, located west of Interstate 435.
Police recovered the Hyundai in the 4200 block of East 68th Street, which is nearby the original crime scene.
The three suspects remain at large. The police report only identifies the suspects as three black men who were in their late 20s or early 30s, but does not provide additional details.
Police have not released a detailed description of the suspects.
Police advise when meeting someone for an online sale to use caution and trust your instincts. You shouldn't go to unknown places but should go to a crowded area, a business or a police station. Don't bring cash. Instead, use money orders or cashiers checks.
Anyone with information is urged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
The normal $2,000 reward for tips has been increased to $7,000. Liberty-based Ferrellgas has made a $5,000 donation to Crime Stoppers.
KCTV5's Laura McCallister, Dave Eckert, Alan Shope, Chris Oberholtz and Jamie Oberg contributed to this report.